IDS Distinguished Alumni 

sp13alumnipanelList of alumni from left to right: Aaron Gelfand '07, Jill Biggs Swaney '10, Justen G. William '10, and Ashley Williams '12.

In the spring semester of 2013, IDS hosted The IDS Alumni Panel. The panel discussion was geared towards addressing the oft asked question, "What are graduates from this program doing with their degrees?". Academic Director of IDS, Dr. Elaine Brooks, served as facilitator for the evening. Martha Barnes, Director of Experiential Education and Career Opportunities, was also in attendance to promote the services of her office to students. Pamela Meyer and the UNO Alumni Association also assisted with this event. 

Experiential Education and Career Opportunities
UNO Alumni Association

The Panel of Distinguished Alumni

Aaron Gelfand, BGS '07

Theme: Health Services

  • Weigh Master of the City Park Big Bass Rodeo, Professional red-fish tournament fisher for Iberia Bank, and involved with wetlands conservation efforts
  • Owner and operator of Ace Fishing, Property Manager for Gelfand Reality, & 200 ton Captain experienced with tugboats and assisted with the BP oil spill recovery

Justen G. Williams, BIDS '10

ILP: Business and Urban Society

Jill Biggs Swaney, BIDS '10

ILP: Child and Family Development

  • Completed UNO MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) program 2012
  • Certified teacher employed as a mentor teacher for Miller Wall Elementary School Leadership team



Ashley Williams, BIDS '12

ILP: Business and Urban Society 

  • Former UNO Orientation Leader & Walt Disney World College Program participant
  • Hotel Industry Professional

Alumni Spotlight

Tillman.alumpicMichael Tillman, Teacher

Class of 2008

I am a 2008 graduate of the Bachelor of General Studies Degree Program at UNO.  I recently graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching from Columbia University Teachers College in New York City. I vividly remember sitting in my advisor's office in January of 2008 and being asked why I wanted to finish a degree. He was helpful, supportive, and brutally honest about what I needed to accomplish in order to reach that goal. I contend that if not for that genuine conversation with Mr. Harper that day, the first truly genuine conversation I'd ever had with an administrator anywhere, I might not have finished my undergraduate degree.

I am very happy to report that I did, in fact, reach my goal of becoming a teacher. I am currently teaching 9th grade Global History at Beacon School, one of the top rated public schools in New York City. The job is as challenging and fulfilling as ever, and all of my students are well aware of my Privateer pride. When my peers or students ask where I got my degree, I proudly say "The University of New Orleans" first, and Teacher's College as a side note. Thanks to BGS for the support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for non-traditional students like myself.